Freda Zhang was named a B.C. Ambassador last week.

Freda Zhang was named a B.C. Ambassador last week.

‘Princess’ now B.C. ambassador

Freda Zhang crowned in Merritt last week

White Rock’s Freda Zhang has been crowned a B.C. Ambassador.

The Semiahmoo Secondary student received the title along with fellow candidates Paris Sanesh from Kamloops and Sarah Simon from Merritt Saturday night, following months of preparation for the B.C. Ambassador pageant that took place in Merritt last week.

“It was very shocking when they announced my name,” Zhang said Tuesday after returning home. “I was surprised, definitely, because all of the contestants have worked really hard and we all prepared really well – we are all qualified to be an ambassador for British Columbia.”

Candidates were judged on their general knowledge of B.C. during a three-hour written test, as well as their public speaking abilities, presentation skills and talent performances.

During her community speech presentation Friday evening, Zhang – who, at 17, is the youngest of the contestants – dressed as a starfish and spoke of her beautiful seaside community.

As well as being crowned, Zhang also won the talent award and knowledge exam, and was a finalist in the public speaking and promotional award categories.

She will receive $4,500 in bursaries for her education, which she is to continue after graduating next year. Zhang said she plans to attend university out of province, and pursue a career as a lawyer.

“It will probably be a very busy year, but I’m really looking forward to it because I know the program will boost my confidence and open more possibilities for me.”

The B.C. Ambassador provincial program was founded to instil leadership qualities, assist in post-secondary education expenses and create networking opportunities and friendships throughout B.C. The program is open to men and women aged 17 to 23 who have held previous titles in their own communities.

Zhang – who was a princess last year with White Rock Youth Ambassadors – will now visit local ambassador pageants around the province and assist in fundraising and promoting the program.

“I’m excited to bring the program from the Interior of B.C. to coastal B.C. and separate it from Miss Teen Canada and Miss Teen International,” Zhang said, noting there is a distinct difference between beauty pageants and ambassador programs.

“I’m looking forward to actually doing more with the Metro Vancouver district… and maybe do some fundraising that I didn’t get a chance to do when I was a candidate.”

– with files from Jade Swartzberg